Global eCommerce sales are estimated at: $3.53tr and the market is growing fast. As retail and B2B customers go online, new eCommerce platforms are constantly popping up; the market is getting busier.
If you are developing a new ecommerce platform, there are some important things to know. In this article I describe 4 typical mistakes of e-commerce entrepreneurs and show you how to avoid them.
1. Launch with too many features
At our agency, many clients come to us with tons of ideas for cool features and they want to implement everything at once. This isn’t always the best way to go because you don’t really know what the users want in the beginning.
Before launch, all you have is guesswork. So it is better to start quickly and get feedback from the market as early as possible. Therefore, you need to develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which is now the basic version of your platform, with only the core features, just enough to attract the first users.
There are several types of MVPs to choose from, from those that require no encryption to those that require minimal encryption (“single-feature MVPs”).
With eCommerce platform development, you have two options: you can use out-of-the-box website builders or develop your website from scratch. In the case of website builders, you can create an eCommerce website yourself even if you are not a programmer. The most popular eCommerce website builders are:
- WordPress + WooCommerce
- square space
- Sharetribe for marketplaces.
Such a website will have basic functionality, will not allow for much customization and will be difficult to scale; but you start quickly and cheaply. Once you’ve grown out of it, you’ll have to ditch it and build a custom ecommerce platform from scratch.
Another approach is to build your website right from the ground up, starting with just the core features. In this case it will take longer to start but you don’t have to uninstall it later as you can upgrade and change everything you need.
Using a website builder is a good idea if you are in the early stages of your idea and want it to fly.
The second approach is best for those who already have a fully formed idea and some kind of confirmation of the question. In that case, it’s best to start custom development right away, so you can customize and change every part of your platform as you need it. Custom development allows you to scale quickly to accommodate any number of users.
2. A lot of friction when checking out
1 in 4 customers leave the store the purchase if they think the checkout process is getting complicated.
Too many steps at checkout, too many blanks to fill in, and clunky payment and shipping options are all barriers to purchase. It is therefore your task as a platform owner to reduce these barriers as much as possible.
Here are some ways you can help your customers checkout:
- Have a variety of payment methods
- Only ask for necessary information
- Save customer data (with their permission) so they don’t have to fill in everything next time
- Allow payment with one click
- Provide a smooth mobile experience
To arrive at the best checkout process, analyze customer behavior and ask about their experience. Then compare payment gateways to see which one is best for your business.
3. Awkward product search
For an eCommerce website, product search is one of its core functions. This is especially important if you offer a wide variety of products or services. A wide product selection can even become a curse if users struggle to find what they need.
Remember when you searched for clothes on a website that didn’t have filters like size, color, price? … Or on sites that don’t allow keyword searches? It’s a nightmare, isn’t it?
The situation becomes even more complicated when: developing websites like Etsy that sell unique items. they have about 60 million unique mentions. Searching based on filters and keywords is not enough on such websites; only AI can make them more searchable. That’s why Etsy has a very complex recommendation system: which is powered by machine learning. This system takes into account what you have viewed, liked and bought in the past, as well as what other users like you have liked and bought. All these important factors limit your search of millions of items to a few doses.
Even if your eCommerce website doesn’t offer a wide variety of products and you don’t need an AI recommendation system, you should still provide a great search experience. This can be achieved with a robust onsite search engine that enables:
- Search full text
- search in multiple fields (filter search)
- highlight (a visual indication of the words entered in the search box)
- synonym search
- autocomplete suggestions
- versatile search (for example, e-commerce sites use facets to tell customers how many items of a specific model, size, color, and other characteristics have been found)
- fuzzy search (search with typos, spelling mistakes)
- spelling corrections
- geospatial search (locating the object based on its latitude and longitude).
4. Not building trust
“The currency of the new economy is trust.” Rachel Botsman
67% of consumers say lack of trust is the number one factor preventing them from using e-commerce. The three biggest consumer fears are:
- Poor product quality
- dishonesty of the seller
- Poor security of ecommerce platform
As an ecommerce platform owner, you must take all necessary steps to gain consumer trust. There are many ways to gain the trust of customers:
- Provide airtight platform protection
- Integrate reputation management tools such as ratings, reviews and badges
- Extensively screen and check users
- Offer broad guarantees
- Use an escrow system for payments
These tools can cover all major consumer concerns, but they may not all apply to you. Let’s see what goes into each.
First and foremost, any ecommerce platform must protect consumer data. Cover your foundation with secure hosting, HTTPS, firewall, regular updates, and other security best practices.
Another powerful trust strategy is reputation management. People trust verified consumer reviews and ratings. You can let consumers leave reviews and rate products on your platform, as well as use the ratings and reviews from other websites.
User verification is also important, especially if you run a marketplace where you need to make sure all parties are legit. Some platforms can get away with basic email or social login verification, while others require thorough background checks and screening. The level of verification depends on the types of products/services you sell. For example, a babysitter marketplace may require more extensive screening verification and background checks than a beauty products platform.
A money-back guarantee can reassure buyers. Implementing such a policy is likely to increase your conversions.
Last but not least, marketplaces that use escrow build trust between buyers and sellers. With escrow, when a buyer makes a purchase, the corresponding amount of money is ‘frozen’ to be released to the seller only if the buyer is satisfied with a product or service. The buyer knows that he will get his money back if the seller does not deliver while the seller knows that he will get the money for the product or service provided. Many successful platforms, including Upwork and Aliexpress, use escrow to their advantage.
These are just a few examples of what you can do to build trust in your ecommerce platform. Since trust is a cornerstone for any online business, any additional measures will help your site stand out as a leader when it comes to reliability and security.
Many new eCommerce startups are guilty of at least one of the 4 pitfalls described above. Avoid them by:
- Launch small and build your platform gradually based on user feedback
- Provide a convenient product search function
- Establishing a trust
- Less friction when checking out